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PK 2095.K11E5 1915 

Songs of Kabir / 

3 1924 023 165 248 


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THE poet Kabir, a selection from 
whose songs is here for the first 
time offered to EngUsh readers, is one 
of the most interesting personaUties 
in the history of Indian mysticism. 
Born in or near Benares, of Mohamme- 
dan parents, and probably about the 
year 1440, he became in early life a 
disciple of the celebrated Hindu as- 
cetic Ramananda. Ramananda had 
brought to Northern India the reli- 
gious revival which Ramanuja, the 
great twelfth-century reformer of Brah- 
manism, had initiated in the South. 
This revival was in part a reaction 
against the increasing formalism of the 
orthodox cult, in part an assertion of 
the demands of the heart as against 


the intense intellectuaUsm of the Ve- 
danta philosophy, the exaggerated 
monism which that philosophy pro- 
claimed. It took in Ramanuja's 
preaching the form of an ardent per- 
sonal devotion to the God Vishnu, as 
representing the personal aspect of the 
Divine Nature: that mystical "reli- 
gion of love" which everywhere makes 
its appearance at a certain level of 
spiritual culture, and which creeds and 
philosophies are powerless to kill. 

Though such a devotion is indige- 
nous in Hinduism, and finds expression 
in some of the oldest parts of the Bhaga- 
vad Gita, there was in its mediaeval 
revival a large element of syncretism. 
Ramananda, through whom its spirit is 
said to have reached Kabir, appears to 
have been a man of wide religious cul- 
ture, and full of missionary enthusiasm. 
Living at the moment in which the 
impassioned poetry and deep philoso- 


phy of the great Persian mystics, Attar, 
Sadi, Jalalu'ddin Ruml, and Hafiz, 
were exercising a powerful influence 
on the religious thought of India, he 
dreamed of reconciling this intense 
and personal Mohammedan mysticism 
with the traditional theology of Brah- 
manism. Some have regarded both 
these great religious leaders as influ- 
enced also by Christian thought and 
life : but as this is a point upon which 
competent authorities hold widely di- 
vergent views, its discussion is not at- 
tempted here. We may safely assert, 
however, that in their teachings, two 
— perhaps three — apparently antag- 
onistic streams of intense spiritual 
culture met, as Jewish and Hellenistic 
thought met in the early Christian 
Church : and it is one of the outstand- 
ing characteristics of Kabir's genius 
that he was able in his poems to fuse 
them into one. 


A great religious reformer, the 
founder of a sect to which nearly a 
milKon northern Hindus still belong, 
it is yet supremely as a mystical poet 
that Kabir hves for us. His fate has 
been that of many revealers of Reahty. 
A hater of rehgious exclusivism, and 
seeking above all things to initiate men 
into the hberty of the children of God, 
his followers have honoured his mem- 
ory by re-erecting in a new place the 
barriers which he laboured to cast 
down. But his wonderful songs sur- 
vive, the spontaneous expressions of 
his vision and his love ; and it is by 
these, not by the didactic teachings 
associated with his name, that he makes 
his immortal appeal to the heart. In 
these poems a wide range of mystical 
emotion is brought into play : from the 
loftiest abstractions, the most other- 
worldly passion for the Infinite, to the 
most intimate and personal reaUza- 


tion of God, expressed in homely 
metaphors and reUgious symbols 
drawn indifferently from Hindu and 
Mohammedan beUef. It is impossible 
to say of their author that he was 
Brahman or Sufi, Vedantist or Vaish- 
navite. He is, as he says himself, 
"At once the child of Allah and of 
Ram." That Supreme Spirit" Whom 
he knew and adored, and to Whose joy- 
ous friendship he sought to induct the 
souls of other men, transcended whilst 
He included all metaphysical cate- 
gories, all credal definitions ; yet each 
contributed something to the descrip- 
tion of that Infinite and Simple Total- 
ity Who revealed Himself, according 
to their measure, to the faithful lovers 
of all creeds. 

Kabir's story is surrounded by con- 
tradictory legends, on none of which 
rehance can be placed. Some of these 
emanate from a Hindu, some from a 


Mohammedan source, and claim him by 
turns as a Sufi and a Brahman saint. 
His name, however, is practically a 
conclusive proof of Moslem ancestry : 
and the most probable tale is that 
which represents him as the actual 
or adopted child of a Mohammedan 
weaver of Benares, the city in which the 
chief events of his life took place. 

In fifteenth-century Benares the syn- 
cretistic tendencies of Bhakti religion 
had reached full development. Sufis 
and Brahmans appear to have met in 
disputation : the most spiritual mem- 
bers of both creeds frequenting the 
teachings of Ramananda, whose repu- 
tation was then at its height. The 
boy Kabir, in whom the religious pas- 
sion was innate, saw in Ramananda 
his destined teacher; but knew how 
slight were the chances that a Hindu 
guru would accept a Mohammedan as 
disciple. He therefore hid upon the 


steps of the river Ganges, where Rama- 
nauda was accustomed to bathe ; with 
the result that the master, coming 
down to the water, trod upon his body 
unexpectedly, and exclaimed in his 
astonishment, "Ram! Ram!" — the 
name of the incarnation under which he 
worshipped God. Kabir then declared 
that he had received the mantra of 
initiation from Ramananda's lips, and 
was by it admitted to discipleship. In 
spite of the protests of orthodox Brah- 
mans and Mohammedans, both equally 
annoyed by this contempt of theologi- 
cal landmarks, he persisted in his 
claim; thus exhibiting in action that 
very principle of religious synthesis 
which Ramananda had sought to es- 
tablish in thought. Ramananda ap- 
pears to have accepted him, and 
though Mohammedan legends speak 
of the famous Sufi Pir, Takki of Jhani, 
as Kabir's master in later hfe, the 


Hindu saint is the only human teacher 
to whom in his songs he acknowledges 

The little that we know of Kabir's 
life contradicts many current ideas 
concerning the Oriental mystic. Of 
the stages of discipline through which 
he passed, the manner in which his 
spiritual genius developed, we are com- 
pletely ignorant. He seems to have 
remained for years the disciple of 
Ramananda, joining in the theological 
and philosophical arguments which his 
master held with all the great Mullahs 
and Brahmans of his day; and to 
this source we may perhaps trace his 
acquaintance with the terms of Hindu 
and Sufi philosophy. He may or may 
not have submitted to the traditional 
education of the Hindu or the Sufi 
contemplative : it is clear, at any rate, 
that he never adopted the life of the 
professional ascetic, or retired from the 


world in order to devote himself to 
bodily mortifications and the exclu- 
sive pursuit of the contemplative life. 
Side by side with his interior life of 
adoration, its artistic expression in 
music and words — for he was a skilled 
musician as well as a poet — he lived 
the sane and diligent life of the Orien- 
tal craftsman. All the legends agree 
on this point : that Kablr was a weaver, 
a simple and unlettered man, who 
earned his hving at the loom. Like 
Paul the tentmaker, Boehme the cob- 
bler, Bunyan the tinker, Tersteegen 
the ribbon-maker, he knew how to 
combine vision and industry; the 
work of his hands helped rather than 
hindered the impassioned meditation 
of his heart. Hating mere bodily aus- 
terities, he was no ascetic, but a mar- 
ried man, the father of a family — a 
circumstance which Hindu legends of 
the monastic type vainly attempt to 


conceal or explain — and it was from 
out of the heart of the common life 
that he sang his rapturous lyrics of 
divine love. Here his works corrobo- 
rate the traditional story of his Ufe. 
Again and again he extols the hfe of 
home, the value and reality of diurnal 
existence, with its opportunities for 
love and renunciation ; pouring con- 
tempt upon the professional sanctity 
of the Yogi, who "has a great beard, 
and matted locks, and looks hke a 
goat," and on all who think it neces- 
sary to flee a world pervaded by love, 
joy, and beauty — the proper theatre 
of man's quest — in order to find that 
One ReaUty Who has "spread His form 
of love throughout all the world," ^ 

It does not need much experience of 
ascetic literature to recognize the bold- 
ness and originality of this attitude in 
such a time and place. From the 

1 Cf . Poems Nos. XXI, XL, XLIII, LXVI, LXXVI. 


point of view of orthodox sanctity, 
whether Hindu or Mohammedan, Ka- 
bir was plainly a heretic ; and his frank 
disUke of all institutional reUgion, all 
external observance — which was as 
thorough and as intense as that of the 
Quakers themselves — completed, so 
far as ecclesiastical opinion was con- 
cerned, his reputation as a dangerous 
man. The " simple union " with Divine 
Reahty which he perpetually extolled, 
as ahke the duty and the joy of every 
soul, was independent both of ritual 
and of bodily austerities; the God 
whom he proclaimed was "neither in 
Kaaba nor in Kailash." Those who 
sought Him needed not to go far ; for 
He awaited discovery everywhere, more 
accessible to "the washerwoman and 
the carpenter" than to the self-right- 
eous holy man.^ Therefore the whole 
apparatus of piety, Hindu and Moslem 

1 Poems I, II, XLI. 


alike — the temple and mosque, idol 
and holy water, scriptures and priests 
— were denounced by this inconven- 
iently clear-sighted poet as mere sub- 
stitutes for reality ; dead things inter- 
vening between the soul and its love — ■ 

The images are all lifeless, they cannot speak : 
I know, for I have cried aloud to them. 

The Purana and the Koran are mere words : 
lifting up the curtain, I have seen.* 

This sort of thing cannot be tolerated 
by any organized church; and it is 
not surprising that Kabir, having his 
head-quarters in Benares, the very 
centre of priestly influence, was sub- 
jected to considerable persecution. The 
well-known legend of the beautiful 
courtesan sent by the Brahmans to 
tempt his virtue, and converted, Uke 
the Magdalen, by her sudden encounter 
with the initiate of a higher love, pre- 
serves the memory of the fear and dis- 

1 Poems XLII, LXV, LXVII. 


like with which he was regarded by the 
ecclesiastical powers. Once at least, 
after the performance of a supposed 
miracle of healing, he was brought 
before the Emperor Sikandar Lodi, 
and charged with claiming the posses- 
sion of divine powers. But Sikandar 
Lodi, a ruler of considerable culture, 
was tolerant of the eccentricities of 
saintly persons belonging to his own 
faith. Kabir, being of Mohammedan 
birth, was outside the authority of the 
Brahmans, and technically classed with 
the Sufis, to whom great theological 
latitude was allowed. Therefore, 
though he was banished in the in- 
terests of peace from Benares, his life 
was spared. This seems to have 
happened in 1495, when he was nearly 
sixty years of age ; it is the last event 
in his career of which we have definite 
knowledge. Thenceforth he appears 
to have moved about amongst various 


cities of northern India, the centre of 
a group of discipfes; continuing in 
exile that hfe of apostle and poet of 
love to which, as he declares in one of 
his songs, he was destined "from the 
beginning of time." In 1518, an old 
man, broken in health, and with hands 
so feeble that he could no longer make 
the music which he loved, he died at 
Maghar near Gorakhpur. 

A beautiful legend tells us that after 
his death his Mohammedan and Hindu 
disciples disputed the possession of 
his body; which the Mohammedans 
wished to bury, the Hindus to burn. 
As they argued together, Kabir ap- 
peared before them, and told them to 
lift the shroud and look at that which 
lay beneath. They did so, and found 
in the place of the corpse a heap of 
flowers ; half of which were buried by 
the Mohammedans at Maghar, and 
half carried by the Hindus to the holy 


city of Benares to be burned — fitting 
conclusion to a life which had made 
fragrant the most beautiful doctrines 
of two great creeds. 


The poetry of mysticism might be 
defined on the one hand as a tempera- 
mental reaction to the vision of Reality : 
on the ofher, as a form of prophecy. 
As it is the special vocation of the mys- 
tical consciousness to mediate between 
two orders, going out in loving adora- 
tion towards God and coming home to 
tell the secrets of Eternity to other 
men ; so the artistic self-expression of 
this consciousness has also a double 
character. It is love-poetry, but love- 
poetry which is often written with a 
missionary intention. 

Kabir's songs are of this kind : out- 
births at once of rapture and of charity. 
Written in the popular Hindi, not in 


the literary tongue, they were deliber- 
ately addressed — like the vernacular 
poetry of Jacopone da Todi and 
Richard RoUe — to the people rather 
than to the professionally religious class ; 
and all must be struck by the constant . 
employment in them of imagery drawn 
from the common life, the universal 
experience. It is by the simplest meta- 
phors, by constant appeals to needs, 
passions, relations which all men under- 
stand — the bridegroom and bride, the 
guru and disciple, the pilgrim, the 
farmer, the migrant bird — that he 
drives home his intense conviction of 
the reality of the soul's intercourse 
with the Transcendent. There are in 
his universe no fences between the 
"natural" and "supernatural" worlds ; 
everything is a part of the creative 
Play of God, and therefore — even in 
its humblest details — capable of re- 
vealing the Player's mind. 


This willing acceptance of the here- 
and-now as a means of representing 
supernal realities is a trait common to 
the greatest mystics. For them, when 
they have achieved at last the true 
theopathetic state, all aspects of the 
universe possess equal authority as 
sacramental declarations of the 
Presence of God ; and their fearless 
employment of homely and physical 
symbols — often startUng and even 
revolting to the unaccustomed taste 
— is in direct proportion to the exalta- 
tion of their spiritual life. The works 
of the great Sufis, and amongst the 
Christians of Jacopone da Todi, Ruys- 
broeck, Boehme, abound in illustra- 
tions of this law. Therefore we must 
not be surprised to find in Kabir's 
songs — his desperate attempts to com- 
municate his ecstasy and persuade 
other men to share it — a constant 
juxtaposition of concrete and meta- 


physical language; swift alternations 
between the most intensely anthropo- 
morphic, the most subtly philosophical, 
ways of apprehending man's commun- 
ion with the Divine. The need for this 
alternation, and its entire naturalness 
for the mind which employs it, is rooted 
in his concept, or vision, of the Nature 
of God ; and unless we make some at- 
tempt to grasp this, we shall not go far 
in our understanding of his poems. 

Kabir belongs to that small group of 
supreme mystics — amongst whom St. 
Augustine, Ruysbroeck, and the Sufi 
poet Jalalu'ddin Rumi are perhaps the 
chief — who have achieved that which 
we might call the synthetic vision of 
God. These have resolved the per- 
petual opposition between the personal 
and impersonal, the transcendent and 
immanent, static and dynamic aspects 
of the Divine Nature; between the 
Absolute of philosophy and the "sure 


true Friend" of devotional religion. 
They have done this, not by taking 
these apparently incompatible concepts 
one after the other ; but by ascending 
to a height of spiritual intuition at 
which they are, as Ruysbroeck said, 
"melted and merged in the Unity," 
and perceived as the completing oppo- 
sites of a perfect Whole. This pro- 
ceeding entails for them — and both 
Kabir and Ruysbroeck expressly ac- 
knowledge it — a universe of three 
orders : Becoming, Being, and that 
which is "More than Being," i.e., God.^ 
God is here felt to be not the final 
abstraction, but the one actuality. 
He inspires, supports, indeed inhabits, 
both the durational, conditioned, finite 
world of Becoming and the uncon- 
ditioned, non-successional, infinite 
world of Being ; yet utterly transcends 
them both. He is the omnipresent 

1 Nos. VII and XLIX. 


Reality, the "All-pervading" within 
Whom " the worlds are being told like 
beads." In His personal aspect He 
is the "beloved Fakir," teaching and 
companioning each soul. Considered 
as Immanent Spirit, He is "the Mind 
within the mind." But all these are at 
best partial aspects of His nature, 
mutually corrective : as the Persons in 
the Christian doctrine of the Trinity 
— to which this theological diagram 
bears a striking resemblance — repre- 
sent difiFerent and compensating experi- 
ences of the Divine Unity within which 
they are resumed. As Ruysbroeck 
discerned a plane of reality upon which 
"we can speak no more of Father, Son, 
and Holy Spirit, but only of One Being, 
the very substance of the Divine Per- 
sons"; so Kabir says that "beyond 
both the limited and the limitless is 
He, the Pure Being." ^ 

' No. VII. 


Brahma, then, is the Ineffable Fact 
compared with which "the distinction 
of the Conditioned from the Uncondi- 
tioned is but a word": at once the 
utterly transcendent One of Absolutist 
philosophy, and the personal Lover 
of the individual soul — "common to 
all and special to each," as one Chris- 
tian mystic has it. The need felt by 
Kablr for both these ways of describing 
Reality is a proof of the richness and 
balance of his spiritual experience; 
which neither cosmic nor anthropo- 
morphic symbols, taken alone, could 
express. More absolute than the Ab- 
solute, more personal than the human 
mind, Brahma therefore exceeds whilst 
He includes all the concepts of phi- 
losophy, all the passionate intuitions 
of the heart. He is the Great Affirma- 
tion, the font of energy, the source of 
Ufe and love, the unique satisfaction 
of desire. His creative word is the Om 


or "Everlasting Yea." The negative 
philosophy which strips from the Di- 
vine Nature all Its attributes and — 
defining Him only by that which He is 
not — reduces Him to an "Empti- 
ness," is abhorrent to this most vital 
of poets. Brahma, he says, "may 
never be found in abstractions." He 
is the One Love who pervades the 
world, discerned in His fullness only 
by the eyes of love; and those who 
know Him thus share, though they 
may never tell, the joyous and inef- 
fable secret of the universe.^ 

Now Kabir, achieving this synthesis 
between the personal and cosmic as- 
pects of the Divine Nature, eludes the 
three great dangers which threaten 
mystical religion. 

First, he escapes the excessive emo- 
tionaUsm, the tendency to an ex- 
clusively anthropomorphic devotion, 



which, results from an unrestricted cult 
of Divine Personality, especially under 
an incarnational form; seen in India 
in the exaggerations of Krishna wor- 
ship, in Europe in the sentimental 
extravagances of certain Christian 

Next, he is protected from the soul- 
destroying conclusions of pure monism, 
inevitable if its logical implications are 
pressed home : that is, the identity 
of substance between God and the soul, 
with its corollary of the total absorp- 
tion of that soul in the Being of God 
as the goal of the spiritual hfe. For 
the thorough-going monist the soul, 
in so far as it is real, is substantially 
identical with God; and the true 
object of existence is the making patent 
of this latent identity, the realization 
which finds expression in the Vedantist 
formula "That art thou." But Kabir 
says that Brahma and the creature are 


"ever distinct, yet ever united" ; that 
the wise man knows the spiritual as 
well as the material world to "be no 
more than His footstool." ^ The soul's 
union with Him is a love union, a mut- 
ual inhabitation ; that essentially dual- 
istie relation which all mystical religion 
expresses, not a self-mergence which 
leaves no place for personality. This 
eternal distinction, the mysterious 
union-in-separateness of God and the 
soul, is a necessary doctrine of all 
sane mysticism; for no scheme which 
fails to find a place for it can represent 
more than a fragment of that soul's 
intercourse with the spiritual world. 
Its aflSrmation was one of the distin- 
guishing features of the Vaishnavite 
reformation preached by Ramanuja; 
the principle of which descended 
through Ramananda to Kabir. 
Last, the warmly human and direct 

1 Nos. VII and IX. 


apprehension of God as the supreme 
Object of love, the soul's comrade, 
teacher, and bridegroom, which is so 
passionately and frequently expressed 
in Kablr's poems, balances and controls 
those abstract tendencies which are in- 
herent in the metaphysical side of his 
vision of Reality : and prevents it from 
degenerating into that sterile worship 
of intellectual formulae which became 
the curse of the Vedantist school. For 
the mere intellectualist, as for the mere 
pietist, he has little approbation.^ Love 
is throughout his "absolute sole Lord" : 
the unique source of the more abundant 
hfe which he enjoys, and the common 
factor which unites the finite and infi- 
nite worlds. All is soaked in love : 
that love which he described in al- 
most Johannine language as the 
"Form of God." The whole of crea- 
tion is the Play of the Eternal Lover ; 

1 Cf. especially Nos. LIX, LXVII, LXXV, XC, XCI. 


the living, changing, growing expres- 
sion of Brahma's love and joy. As 
these twin passions preside over the 
generation of human life, so "beyond 
the mists of pleasure and pain," Kabir 
finds them governing the creative acts 
of God. His manifestation is love; 
His activity is joy. Creation springs 
from one glad act of aflBrmation : the 
Everlasting Yea, perpetually uttered 
within the depths of the Divine Na- 
ture.^ In accordance with this con- 
cept of the universe as a Love-Game 
which eternally goes forward, a progres- 
sive manifestation of Brahma — one of 
the many notions which he adopted 
from the common stock of Hindu reli- 
gious ideas, and illuminated by his 
poetic genius — movement, rhythm, 
perpetual change, forms an integral 
part of Kablr's vision of Reality. 
Though the Eternal and Absolute is 



ever present to his consciousness, yet 
his concept of the Divine Nature is 
essentially dynamic. It is by the sym- 
bols of motion that he most often tries 
to convey it to us : as in his constant 
reference to dancing, or the strangely 
modern picture of that Eternal Swing 
of the Universe which is "held by the 
cords of love." ^ 

It is a marked characteristic of mysti- 
cal Hterature that the great contempla- 
tives, in their effort to convey to us the 
nature of their communion with the 
supersensuous, are inevitably driven to 
employ some form of sensuous imagery : 
coarse and inaccurate as they know 
such imagery to be, even at the best. 
Our normal human consciousness is so 
completely committed to dependence 
on the senses, that the fruits of intui- 
tion itself are instinctively referred to 
them. In that intuition it seems 

1 No. XVI. 


to the mystics that all the dim crav- 
ings and partial apprehensions of 
sense find perfect fulfilment. Hence 
their constant declaration that they see 
the uncreated light, they hear the celes- 
tial melody, they taste the sweetness 
of the Lord, they know an ineffable 
fragrance, they feel the very contact of 
love. "Him verily seeing and fully 
feeling. Him spiritually hearing and 
Him delectably smelUng and sweetly 
swallowing," as Julian of Norwich has 
it. In those amongst them who de- 
velop psycho-sensorial automatisms, 
these parallels between sense and spirit 
may present themselves to conscious- 
ness in the form of hallucinations : as 
the light seen by Suso, the music heard 
by RoUe, the celestial perfumes which 
filled St. Catherine of Siena's cell, the 
physical wounds felt by St. Francis 
and St. Teresa. These are excessive 
dramatizations of the symbolism under 


which the mystic tends instinctively 
to represent his spiritual intuition to 
the surface consciousness. Here, in 
the special sense-perception which he 
feels to be most expressive of Reality, 
his peculiar idiosyncrasies come out. 

Now Kabir, as we might expect in 
one whose reactions to the spiritual 
order were so wide and various, uses 
by turn all the symbols of sense. He 
tells us that he has "seen without 
sight" the effulgence of Brahma, tasted 
the divine nectar, felt the ecstatic con- 
tact of Reahty, smelt the fragrance of 
the heavenly flowers. But he was 
essentially a poet and musician : 
rhythm and harmony were to him the 
garments of beauty and truth. Hence 
in his lyrics he shows himself to be, 
hke Richard RoUe, above all things a 
musical mystic. Creation, he says 
again and again, is full of music : it is 
music. At the heart of the Universe 


"white music is blossoming" : love 
weaves the melody, whilst renunciation 
beats the time. It can be heard in the 
home as well as in the heavens; dis- 
cerned by the ears of common men as 
well as by the trained senses of the 
ascetic. Moreover, the body of every 
man is a lyre on which Brahma, "the 
source of all music," plays. Every- 
where Kabir discerns the "Unstruck 
Music of the Infinite" — that celestial 
melody which the angel played to St. 
Francis, that ghostly symphony which 
filled the soul of RoUe with ecstatic joy .^ 
The one figure which he adopts from 
the Hindu Pantheon and constantly 
uses, is that of Krishna the Divine 
Flute Player.^ He sees the supernal 
music, too, in its visual embodiment, as 
rhythmical movement: that mysteri- 
ous dance of the universe before the 



face of Brahma, which is at once an 
act of worship, and an expression of the 
infinite rapture of the Immanent God.^ 
Yet in this wide and rapturous vision 
of the universe Kabir never loses touch 
with diurnal existence, never forgets 
the common hfe. His feet are firmly 
planted upon earth ; his lofty and pas- 
sionate apprehensions are perpetually 
controlled by the activity of a sane and 
vigorous intellect, by the alert common- 
sense so often found in persons of real 
mystical genius. The constant insist- 
ence on simpUcity and directness, the 
hatred of all abstractions and philoso- 
phisings,^ the ruthless criticism of ex- 
ternal religion : these are amongst his 
most marked characteristics. God is 
the Root whence all manifestations, 
"material" and "spiritual," alike pro- 
ceed; and God is the only need of 




man — "happiness shall be yours when 
you come to the Root." ^ Hence to 
those who keep their eye on the "one 
thing needful," denominations, creeds, 
ceremonies, the conclusions of philos- 
ophy, the disciplines of asceticism, are 
matters of comparative indifference. 
They represent merely the different 
angles from which the soul may ap- 
proach that simple union with Brahma 
which is its goal ; and are useful only 
in so far as they contribute to this 
consummation. So thorough-going is 
Kabir's eclecticism, that he seems by 
turns Vedantist and Vaishnavite, Pan- 
theist and Transcendentalist, Brahman 
and Sufi. In the effort to tell the 
truth about that ineffable apprehension, 
so vast and yet so near, which controls 
his life, he seizes and twines together 
— as he might have woven together 
contrasting threads upon his loom — 

1 No. LXXX. 


symbols and ideas drawn from the most 
violent and conflicting philosophies and 
faiths. All are needed if he is ever to 
suggest the character of that One 
whom the Upanishad called "the Sun- 
coloured Being who is beyond this 
Darkness": as all the colours of the 
spectrum are needed if we would dem- 
onstrate the simple richness of white 
light. In thus adapting traditional 
materials to his own use, he follows a 
method common amongst the mystics ; 
who seldom exhibit any special love 
for originality of form. They wiU pour 
their wine into almost any vessel that 
comes to hand : generally using by 
preference — and hfting to new levels 
of beauty and significance — the re- 
hgious or philosophic formulae current 
in their own day. Thus we find that 
some of Kabir's finest poems have as 
their subjects the commonplaces of 
Hindu philosophy and rehgion: the 


Lila or Sport of God, the Ocean of 
Bliss, the Bird of the Soul, Maya, the 
Hundred-petalled Lotus, and the 
"Formless Form." Many, again, are 
soaked in Sufi imagery and feeling. 
Others use as their material the ordi- 
nary surroundings and incidents of 
Indian life : the temple bells, the cere- 
mony of the lamps, marriage, suttee, 
pilgrimage, the characters of the 
seasons; all felt by him in their 
mystical aspect, as sacraments of the 
soul's relation with Brahma. In many 
of these a particularly beautiful and 
intimate feeling for Nature is shown.^ 

In the collection of songs here trans- 
lated, there will be found examples which 
illustrate nearly every aspect of Kabir's 
thought, and all the fluctuations of 
the mystic's emotion : the ecstasy, the 
despair, the still beatitude, the eager 
seK-devotion, the flashes of wide illumi- 



nation, the moments of intimate love. 
His wide and deep vision of the uni- 
verse, the "Eternal Sport" of creation 
(LXXXII), the worlds being "told like 
beads" within the Being of God (XIV, 
XVI, XVII, LXXVI), is here seen bal- 
anced by his lovely and delicate sense of 
intimate communion with the Divine 
Friend, Lover, Teacher of the soul 
above all, the beautiful poem XXXIV). 
As these apparently paradoxical views 
of ReaHty are resolved in Brahma, 
so all other opposites are reconciled 
in Him : bondage and hberty, love and 
renunciation, pleasure and pain (XVII, 
XXV, XL, LXXXIX). Union with 
Him is the one thing that matters to 
the soul, its destiny and its need (LI, 
XCVI) ; and this union, this discovery 
of God, is the simplest and most natural 


of all things if we would but grasp it 
LXXVIII, XCVII). The union, how- 
ever, is brought about by love, not by 
knowledge or ceremonial observances 
and the apprehension which that union 
confers is ineffable — "neither This 
nor That," as Ruysbroeck has it (IX, 
XLVI, LXXVI). Real worship and 
communion is in Spirit and in Truth 
therefore idolatry is an insult to the 
Divine Lover (XLII, LXIX) and the 
devices of professional sanctity are 
useless apart from charity and purity 
of soul (LIV, LXV, LXVI). Since all 
things, and especially the heart of 
man, are God-inhabited, God-possessed 
XCVII), He may best be found in the 
here-and-now : in the normal, human, 
bodily existence, the "mud" of material 


life (III, IV, VI, XXI, XXXIX, XL, 

reach the goal without crossing the 
road" (LXXVI) — not the cloister but 
the home is the proper theatre of man's 
efforts : and if he cannot find God 
there, he need not hope for success by 
going farther afield. "In the home is 
reality." There love and detachment, 
bondage and freedom, joy and pain play 
by turns upon the soul ; and it is from 
their conflict that the Unstruck Music 
of the Infinite proceeds. "Kabir says : 
None but Brahma can evoke its 


This version of Kabir's songs is 
chiefly the work of Mr. Rabindranath 
Tagore, the trend of whose mystical 
genius makes him — as all who read 
these poems will see — a peculiarly- 
sympathetic interpreter of Kabir's 


vision and thought. It has been based 
upon the printed Hindi text with 
Bengah translation of Mr. Kshiti Mo- 
han Sen ; who has gathered from many 
sources — sometimes from books and 
manuscripts, sometimes from the Ups 
of wandering ascetics and minstrels — 
a large collection of poems and hymns 
to which Kabir's name is attached, and 
carefully sifted the authentic songs 
from the many spurious works now 
attributed to him. These painstaking 
labours alone have made the present 
undertaking possible. 

We have also had before us a manu- 
script EngUsh translation of 116 songs 
made by Mr. Ajit Kumar Chakravarty 
from Mr. Kshiti Mohan Sen's text, 
and a prose essay upon Kabir from 
the same hand. From these we have 
derived great assistance. A consider- 
able number of readings from the 
translation have been adopted by us; 


whilst several of the facts mentioned 
in the essay have been incorporated 
into this introduction. Our most grate- 
ful thanks are due to Mr. Ajit Kumar 
Chakravarty for the extremely gener- 
ous and unselfish manner in which he 
has placed his work at our disposal. 

E. U. 


I. 13. mo ko kahdnd hunro vande 

O SERVANT, where dost thou 
seek Me? 
Lo ! I am beside thee. 
I am neither in temple nor in mosque : 

I am neither in Xaaba nor in 

Kailash : 
Neither am I in rites and ceremonies, 

nor in Yoga and renunciation. 
If thou art a true seeker, thou shalt at 

once see Me : thou shalt meet Me 

in a moment of time. 
Kabir says, "O Sadhu! God is the 

breath of all breath." 


I. 16. Santan jdt na pucho nirguniyan 

IT is needless to ask of a saint the 
caste to which he belongs ; 



For the priest, the warrior, the trades- 
man, and all the thirty-six castes, 
ahke are seeking for God. 

It is but folly to ask what the caste of 
a saint may be ; 

The barber has sought God, the washer- 
woman, and the carpenter ^- 

Even Raidas was a seeker after God. 

The Rishi Swapacha was a tanner by 

Hindus and Moslems alike have 
achieved that End, where remains 
no mark of distinction. 


I. 57. sddho hhdl, jivat hi karo dm 

O FRIEND ! hope for Him whilst 
you Uve, know whilst you live, 
understand whilst you live : for 
in life dehverance abides. 
If your bonds be not broken whilst 
living, what hope of deliverance 
in death.'' 


It is but an empty dream, that the soul 
shall have union with Him because 
it has passed from the body : 

If He is found now, He is found then. 

If not, we do but go to dwell in the City 
of Death. 

If you have union now, you shall have 
it hereafter. 

Bathe in the truth, know the true Guru, 
have faith in the true Name ! 

Kabir says : "It is the Spirit of the 
quest which helps ; I am the slave 
of this Spirit of the quest." 


I. 58. bdgo nd jd re nd jd 

DO not go to the garden of flowers ! 
O Friend ! go not there ; 
In your body is the garden of flowers. 
Take your seat on the thousand petals 
of the lotus, and there gaze on the 
Infinite Beauty. 



I. 63. avadhu mdyd taji na jdi 

TELL me. Brother, how can I re- 
nounce Maya ? 
When I gave up the tying of ribbons, 

still I tied my garment about me : 
When I gave up tying my garment, 

still I covered my body in its folds. 
So, when I give up passion, I see that 

anger remains ; 
And when I renounce anger, greed is 

with me still ; 
And when greed is vanquished, pride 

and vainglory remain ; 
When the mind is detached and casts 

Maya away, stillit chngs to the 

Kabir says, "Listen to me, dear Sadhu ! 

the true path is rarely found." 



I. 83. candd jhalkai yahi ghat mdhin 

THE moon shines in my body, but 
my blind eyes cannot see it: 
The moon is within me, and so is the 

The unstruek drum of Eternity is 
sounded within me; but my deaf 
ears cannot hear it. 

So long as man clamours for the I and 

the Mine, his works are as naught : 
When all love of the I and the Mine is 

dead, then the work of the Lord 

is done. 
For work has no other aim than the 

getting of knowledge : 
When that comes, then work is put 


The flower blooms for the fruit : when 
the fruit comes, the flower withers. 


The musk is in the deer, but it seeks it 
not within itself: it wanders in 
quest of grass. 


I. 85. Sddho, Brahm alakh lakhdyd 

WHEN He Himself reveals Him- 
seK, Brahma brings into mani- 
festation That which can never be 

As the seed is in the plant, as the shade 
is in the tree, as the void is in the 
sky, as infinite forms are in the 
void — : 

So from beyond the Infinite, the Infi- 
nite comes ; and from the Infinite 
the finite extends. 

The creature is in Brahma, and Brahma 
is in the creature : they are ever 
distinct, yet ever united. 

He Himself is the tree, the seed, and 
the germ. 


He Himself is the flower, the fruit, and 
the shade. 

He Himself is the sun, the light, and 
the lighted. 

He Himself is Brahma, creature, and 

He Himself is the manifold form, the 
infinite space ; 

He is the breath, the word, and the 

He Himself is the hmit and the limit- 
less : and beyond both the hmited 
and the hmitless is He, the Pure 

He is the Immanent Mind in Brahma 
and in the creature. 

The Supreme Soul is seen within the 

The Point is seen within the Supreme 

And within the Point, the reflection is 

seen again. 


Kabir is blest because he has this 
supreme vision ! 


I. 101. is ghat antar hag baglce 

WITHIN this earthen vessel are 
bowers and groves, and within 
it is the Creator : 

Within this vessel are the seven oceans 
and the unnumbered stars. 

The touchstone and the jewel-ap- 
praiser are within ; 

And within this vessel the Eternal 
soundeth, and the spring wells up. 

Kabir says: "Listentome, my Friend ! 
My beloved Lord is within." 


I. 104. aisd lo nahin taisd lo 

OHOW may I ever express that 
secret word ? 
O how can I say He is not like this, and 
He is like that .'' 


If I say that He is within me, the uni- 
verse is ashamed : 
If I say that He is without me, it is 

He makes the inner and the outer 

worlds to be indivisibly one ; 
The conscious and the unconscious, 

both are His footstools. 
He is neither manifest nor hidden, he 

is neither revealed nor unre- 

vealed : 
There are no words to tell that which 

He is. 


I. 121. iohi mori lagan lagdye re 
phakir wd 

TO Thee Thou hast drawn my love, 
O Fakir ! 
I was sleeping in my own chamber, and 
Thou didst awaken me ; striking 
me with Thy voice, O Fakir ! 
I was drowning in the deeps of the 


ocean of this world, and Thou 
didst save me : upholding me 
with Thine arm, O Fakir ! 

Only one word and no second — and 
Thou hast made me tear off all 
my bonds, O Fakir ! 

Kabir says, "Thou hast united Thy 
heart to my heart, O Fakir !" 


I. 131. nis din khelat rahl sakhiyan 

I PLAYED day and night with my 
comrades, and now I am greatly 

So high is my Lord's palace, my heart 
trembles to mount its stairs : yet 
I must not be shy, if I would enjoy 
His love. 

My heart must cleave to my Lover; 
I must withdraw my veil, and 
meet Him with all my body : 


Mine eyes must perform the ceremony 
of the lamps of love. 

Kabir says : "Listen to me, friend : he 
understands who loves. If you 
feel not love's longing for your 
Beloved One, it is vain to adorn 
your body, vain to put unguent 
on your eyelids." 


II. 24. hamsd, Tcaho purdtan vat 

TELL me, O Swan, your ancient 
From what land do you come, O Swan ? 

to what shore will you fly ? 
Where would you take your rest, O 
Swan, and what do you seek ? 

Even this morning, O Swan, awake, 

arise, follow me ! 
There is a land where no doubt nor 

sorrow have rule : where the terror 

of Death is no more. 


There the woods of spring are a-bloom, 
and the fragrant scent "He is Me" 
is borne on the wind : 

There the bee of the heart is deeply 
immersed, and desires no other joy. 


II. 37. anagadhiyd devd 

OLORD Increate, who will serve 
Every votary offers his worship to the 

God of his own creation : each day 

he receives service — 
None seek Him, the Perfect : Brahma, 

the Indivisible Lord. 
They beheve in ten Avatars; but no 

Avatar can be the Infinite Spirit, 

for he suffers the results of his 

deeds : 
The Supreme One must be other than 

The Yogi, the Sanyasi, the Ascetics, 

are disputing one with another : 


Kabir says, " O brother ! he who has 
seen that radiance of love, he is 


II. 56. dariyd hi lahar dariydo hai ji 

THE river and its waves are one 
surf: where is the diflference 

between the river and its waves ? 
When the wave rises, it is the water; 

and when it falls, it is the same 

water again. Tell me, Sir, where 

is the distinction .'' 
Because it has been named as wave, 

shall it no longer be considered as 

water .'' 

Within the Supreme Brahma, the 
worlds are being told like beads : 

Look upon that rosary with the eyes of 



II. 57. janh khelat vasant riturdj 

WHERE Spring, the lord of the 
seasons, reigneth, there the 

Unstruck Music sounds of itself, 
There the streams of hght flow in all 

directions ; 
Few are the men who can cross to that 

shore ! 
There, where milUons of Krishnas stand 

with hands folded. 
Where milhons of Vishnus bow their 

Where millions of Brahmas are reading 

the Vedas, 
Where millions of Shivas are lost in 

Where millions of Indras dwell in the sky. 
Where the demi-gods and the munis 

are unnumbered. 
Where milhons of Saraswatis, Goddess 

of Music, play on the vina — 


There is my Lord self -revealed : and 
the scent of sandal and flowers 
dwells in those deeps. 

" XVI 

II. 59. janh cet acet khambh dou 

BETWEEN the poles of the con- 
scious and the unconscious, there 

has the mind made a swing : 
Thereon hang all beings and all worlds, 

and that swing never ceases its 

Milhons of beings are there : the sun 

and the moon in their courses are 

there : 
Millions of ages pass, and the swing 

goes on. 
All swing ! the sky and the earth and 

the air and the water; and the 

Lord Himself taking form : 
And the sight of this has made Kabir 

a servant. 



II. 61. grah candra tapan jot varat hai 

THE light of the sun, the moon, and 
the stars shines bright : 
The melody of love swells forth, and 
the rhythm of love's detachment 
beats the time. 
Day and night, the chorus of music fills 

the heavens ; and Kabir says, 
"My Beloved One gleams like the 
lightning flash in the sky." 

Do you know how the moments per- 
form their adoration ? 

Waving its row of lamps, the universe 
sings in worship day and night. 

There are the hidden banner and the 
secret canopy : 

There the sound of the unseen bells is 

Kabir says: "There adoration never 
ceases ; there the Lord of the Uni- 
verse sitteth on His throne." 


The whole world does its works and 
commits its errors : but few are 
the lovers who know the Beloved. 

The devout seeker is he who mingles 
in his heart the double currents of 
love and detachment, like the 
mingling of the streams of Ganges 
and Jumna ; 

In his heart the sacred water flows day 
and night ; and thus the round of 
births and deaths is brought to an 

Behold what wonderful rest is in the 
Supreme Spirit ! and he enjoys it, 
who makes himself meet for it. 

Held by the cords of love, the swing of 
the Ocean of Joy sways to and fro ; 
and a mighty sound breaks forth 
in song. . 

See what a lotus blooms there without 
water ! and Kabir says 

"My heart's bee drinks its nectar." 


What a wonderful lotus it is, that 
blooms at the heart of the spinning 
wheel of the universe ! Only a 
few pure souls know of its true 

Music is all around it, and there the 
heart partakes of the joy of the 
Infinite Sea. 

Kabir says: "Dive thou into that 
Ocean of sweetness : thus let all 
errors of hfe and of death flee 

Behold how the thirst of the five senses 
is quenched there ! and the three 
forms of misery are no more ! 

Kabir says: "It is the sport of the 
Unattainable One : look within, 
and behold how the moon-beams 
of that Hidden One shine in you." 

There falls the rhythmic beat of life 
and death : 


Rapture wells forth, and all space is 
radiant with hght. 

There the Unstruck Music is sounded ; 
it is the music of the love of the 
three worlds. 

There milhons of lamps of sun and of 
moon are burning ; 

There the drum beats, and the lover 
swings in play. 

There love-songs resound, and hght 
rains in showers ; and the wor- 
shipper is entranced in the taste 
of the heavenly nectar. 

Look upon hfe and death ; there is no 
separation between them. 

The right hand and the left hand are 
one and the same. 

Kabir says : "There the wise man is 
speechless ; for this truth may never 
be found in Vedas or in books." 

I have had my Seat on the Self-poised 


I have drunk of the Cup of the In- 

I have found the Key of the Mystery, 

I have reached the Root of Union. 

Travelling by no track, I have come 
to the Sorrowless Land: very 
easily has the mercy of the great 
Lord come upon me. 

They have sung of Him as infinite and 
unattainable : but I in my medi- 
tations have seen Him without 

That is indeed the sorrowless land, and 
none know the path that leads 
there : 

Only he who is on that path has surely 
transcended all sorrow. 

Wonderful is that land of rest, to which 
no merit can win ; 

It is the wise who has seen it, it is the 
wise who has sung of it. 

This is the Ultimate Word : but can 
any express its marvellous savour ? 


He who has savoured it once, he 

knows what joy it can give. 
Kabir says : "Knowing it, the ignorant 

man becomes wise, and the wise 

man becomes speechless and silent. 
The worshipper is utterly inebriated. 
His wisdom and his detachment are 

made perfect ; 
He drinks from the cup of the in- 

breathings and the outbreathings 

of love." 

There the whole sky is filled with 
sound, and there that music is 
made without fingers and without 
strings ; 

There the game of pleasure and pain 
does not cease. 

Kabir says : "If you merge your life 
in the Ocean of Life, you will find 
your fife in the Supreme Land of 

What a frenzy of ecstasy there is in 


every hour ! and the worshipper is 
pressing out and drinking the 
essence of the hours : he hves in 
the hfe of Brahma. 

I speak truth, for I have accepted truth 
in hfe; I am now attached to 
truth, I have swept all tinsel away. 

Kabir says: "Thus is the worshipper 
set free from fear; thus have all 
errors of Ufe and of death left 

There the sky is filled with music : 

There it rains nectar : 

There the harp-strings jingle, and there 

the drums beat. 
What a secret splendour is there, in 

the mansion of the sky ! 
There no mention is made of the rising 

and the setting of the sun ; 
In the ocean of manifestation, which is 

the light of love, day and night 

are felt to be one. 


Joy for ever, no sorrow, no struggle ! 
There have I seen joy filled to the brim, 

perfection of joy ; 
No place for error is there. 
Kabirsays: "There have I witnessed 

the sport of One Bhss !" 

I have known in my body the sport of 
the universe : I have escaped from 
the error of this world. 

The inward and the outward are be- 
come as one sky, the Infinite and 
the finite are united : I am drunken 
with the sight of this All ! 

This Light of Thine fulfils the uni- 
verse : the lamp of love that burns 
on the salver of knowledge. 

Kabir says : "There error cannot enter, 
and the conflict of hfe and death 
is felt no more." 



II. 77. maddh dkds dp jahan baithe 

THE middle region of the sky, 
wherein the spirit dwelleth, is 
radiant with the music of hght ; 

There, where the pure and white music 
blossoms, my Lord takes His de- 

In the wondrous effulgence of each hair 
of His body, the brightness of mill- 
ions of suns and of moons is lost. 

On that shore there is a city, where the 
rain of nectar pours and pours, and 
never ceases. 

Kabir says: "Come, O Dharmadas ! 
and see my great Lord's Durbar." 


II. 20. paramdtam guru nikat virdjain 

OMY heart ! the Supreme Spirit, 
the great Master, is near you: 
wake, oh wake ! 
Run to the feet of your Beloved : for 


your Lord stands near to your 
You have slept for unnumbered ages ; 
this morning will you not wake? 


II. 22. man tu pdr utar kanh jaihau 

TO what shore would you cross, O 
my heart.? there is no traveller 
before you, there is no road : 

Where is the movement, where is the 
rest, on that shore ? 

There is no water; no boat, no boat- 
man, is there ; 

There is not so much as a rope to tow 
the boat, nor a man to draw it. 

No earth, no sky, no time, no thing, is 
there : no shore, no ford ! 

There, there is neither body nor mind : 
and where is the place that shall 
still the thirst of the soul.'' You 
shall find naught in that emptiness. 

Be strong, and enter into your own 


body: for there your foothold is 
firm. Consider it well, O my 
heart ! go not elsewhere. 
Kabir says: "Put all imaginations 
away, and stand fast in that which 
you are." 


II. 33. ghar ghar dipak varai 

LAMPS burn in every house, O 
blind one ! and you cannot see 

One day your eyes shall suddenly be 
opened, and you shall see : and the 
fetters of death will fall from you. 

There is nothing to say or to hear, 
there is nothing to do : it is he 
who is Hving, yet dead, who shall 
never die again. 

Because he lives in solitude, therefore 
the Yogi says that his home is far 


Your Lord is near : yet you are climb- 
ing the palm-tree to seek Him. 

The Brahman priest goes from house 
to house and initiates people into 
faith : 

Alas ! the true fountain of life is beside 
you, and you have set up a stone 
to worship. 

Kabirsays: "I may never express how 
sweet my Lord is. Yoga and the 
telling of beads, virtue and vice — 
these are naught to Him." 


II. 38. Sddho, so satgur mohin bhdwai 

O BROTHER, my heart yearns for 
that true Guru, who fills the cup 
of true love, and drinks of it him- 
self, and oflfers it then to me. 
He removes the veil from the eyes, and 

gives the true Vision of Brahma : 
He reveals the worlds in Him, and 


makes me to hear the Unstruck 

Music : 
He shows joy and sorrow to be one : 
He fills all utterance with love. 
Kabir says: "Verily he has no fear, 

who has such a Guru to lead him 

to the shelter of safety ! " 


II. 40. tinwir sdnjh kd gahird dwai 

THE shadows of evening fall thick 
and deep, and the darkness of love 

envelops the body and the mind. 
Open the window to the west, and be 

lost in the sky of love ; 
Drink the sweet honey that steeps the 

petals of the lotus of the heart. 
Receive the waves in your body : what 

splendour is in the region of the 

Hark ! the sounds of conches and bells 

are rising. 


Kabir says: "O brother, behold! the 
Lord is in this vessel of my body." 


II. 48. jis se rahani apdr jagat men 

MORE than all else do I cherish at 
heart that love which makes 
me to hve a limitless life in this 

It is like the lotus, which lives in the 
water and blooms in the water: 
yet the water cannot touch its 
petals, they open beyond its reach. 

It is hke a wife, who enters the fire at 
the bidding of love. She burns 
and lets others grieve, yet never 
dishonours love. 

This ocean of the world is hard to cross : 
its waters are very deep. Kabir 
says: "Listen to me, O Sadhu ! 
few there are who have reached its 



II. 45. Hari ne apnd dp chipdyd 

MY Lord hides Himself, and my 
Lord wonderfully reveals Him- 
self : 

My Lord has encompassed me with 
hardness, and my Lord has cast 
down my limitations. 

My Lord brings to me words of sorrow 
and words of joy, and He Himself 
heals their strife. 

I will offer my body and mind to my 
Lord : I will give up my life, but 
never can I forget my Lord ! 


II. 75. onkdr savai koi sirjai 

ALL things are created by the Om ; 
The love-form is His body. 
He is without form, without quality, 

without decay : 
Seek thou union with Him ! 


But that formless God takes a thousand 

forms in the eyes of His creatures: 
He is pure and indestructible. 
His form is infinite and fathomless, 
He dances in rapture, and waves of 

form arise from His dance. 
The body and the mind cannot contain 

themselves, when they are touched 

by His great joy. 
He is immersed in all consciousness, all 

joys, and all sorrows ; 
He has no beginning and no end ; 
He holds all within His bliss. 


II. 81. satgur soi day a Tear dlnhd 

IT is the mercy of my true Guru that 
has made me to know the un- 
I have learned from Him how to walk 
without feet, to see without eyes, 
to hear without ears, to drink 


without mouth, to fly without 
wings ; 

I have brought my love and my medi- 
tation into the land where there 
is no sun and moon, nor day and 

Without eating, I have tasted of the 
sweetness of nectar; and without 
water, I have quenched my thirst. 

Where there is the response of dehght, 
there is the fullness of joy. Be- 
fore whom can that joy be uttered ? 

Kabir says: "The Guru is great be- 
yond words, and great is the good 
fortune of the disciple." 


II. 85. nirgun age sargun ndcai 

BEFORE the Unconditioned, the 
Conditioned dances : 
"Thou and I are one!" this trumpet 


The Guru comes, and bows down before 

the disciple : 
This is the greatest of wonders. 


II. 87. Kablr kab se bhaye vairdgl 

GORAKHNATH asks Kabir: 
"Tell me, O Kabir, when did 
your vocation begin? Where did 
your love have its rise.'*" 

Kabir answers : 

"When He whose forms are manifold 
had not begun His play : when 
there was no Guru, and no disciple : 
when the world was not spread 
out : when the Supreme One was 
alone — 

Then I became an ascetic; then, O 
Gorakh, my love was drawn to 

Brahma did not hold the crown on his 
head; the god Vishnu was not 


anointed as king; the power of 
Shiva was still unborn ; when 1 
was instructed in Yoga. 

I became suddenly revealed in Benares, 

and Ramananda illumined me ; 
I brought with me the thirst for the 

Infinite, and I have come for the 

meeting with Him. 
In simpUcity will I unite with the 

Simple One; my love will surge 

O Gorakh, march thou with His 

music !" 


II. 95. yd tarivar men eh pakheru 

ON this tree is a bird : it dances '^^ 
in the joy of life. 
None knows where it is : and who 
knows what the burden of its 
music may be.'' 
Where the branches throw a deep 


shade, there does it have its nest : 
and it comes in the evening and 
flieslaway in the morning, and says 
not a word of that which it means. 

None tell me of this bird that sings 
within me. 

It is neither coloured nor colourless : it 
has neither form nor outUne : 

It sits in the shadow of love. 

It dwells within the Unattainable, the 
Infinite, and the Eternal; and no 
one marks when it comes and goes. 

Kabir says : "O brother Sadhu ! deep 
is the mystery. Let wise men seek 
to know where rests that bird." 


II. 100. nis din sdlai ghdw 

A SORE pain troubles me day and 
night, and I cannot sleep ; 
I long for the meeting with my Beloved, 
and my father's house gives me 
pleasure no more. 


The gates of the sky are opened, the 

temple is revealed : 
I meet my husband, and leave at His 

feet the offering of my body and 

my mind. 


II. 103. nacu re mero man matta hoy 

DANCE, my heart ! dance to-day 
with joy. 

The strains of love fill the days and 
the nights with music, and the 
world is listening to its melodies : 

Mad with joy, hfe and death dance to 
the rhythm of this music. The 
hills and the sea and the earth 
dance. The world of man dances 
in laughter and tears. 

Why put on the robe of the monk, and 
live aloof from the world in lonely 
pride ? 

Behold ! my heart dances in the de- 


light of a hundred arts; and the 
Creator is well pleased. 


II. 105. man mast hud tab kyon bole 

WHERE is the need of words, 
when love has made drunken 
the heart ? 

I have wrapped the diamond in my 
cloak; why open it again and 
again ? j 

When its load was hght, the pan of the 
balance went up : now it is full, 
where is the need for weighing ? 

The swan has taken its flight to the 
lake beyond the mountains ; why 
should it search for the pools and 
ditches any more ? 

Your Lord dwells within you : why 
need your outward eyes be opened .'' 

Kabir says : "Listen, my brother ! my 
Lord, who ravishes my eyes, has 
united Himself with me." 



II. 110. mohi tohi Idgl kaise chute 

HOW could the love between Thee 
and me sever ? 
As the leaf of the lotus abides on the 

water : so Thou art my Lord, and 

I am Thy servant. 
As the night-bird Chakor gazes all 

night at the moon : so Thou art 

my Lord and I am Thy servant. 
From the beginning until the ending 

of time, there is love between 

Thee and me ; and how shall such 

love be extinguished ? 
Kabirsays : " As the river enters into the 

ocean, so my heart touches Thee." 


II. 113. Vdlam dwo hamdre geh re 

MY body and my mind are grieved 
for the want of Thee ; 
O my Beloved ! come to my house. 


When people say I am Thy bride, I am 
ashamed ; for I have not touched 
Thy heart with my heart. 

Then what is this love of mine ? I have 
no taste for food, I have no sleep ; 
my heart is ever restless within 
doors and without. 

As water is to the thirsty, so is the 
lover to the bride. Who is there 
that will carry my news to my 
Beloved ? 

Kabir is restless : he is dying for sight 
of Him. 


II. 126. jag piydrl ah Ted sowai 

O FRIEND, awake, and sleep no 
more ! 
The night is over and gone, would you 

lose your day also ? 
Others, who have wakened, have re- 
ceived jewels ; 


O foolish woman ! you have lost all 

whilst you slept. 
Your lover is wise, and you are foohsh, 

O woman ! 
You never prepared the bed of your 

husband : 
O mad one ! you passed your time in 

silly play. 
Your youth was passed in vain, for you 

did not know your Lord ; 
Wake, wake ! See ! your bed is empty : 

He left you in the night. 
Kabir says: "Only she wakes, whose 

heart is pierced with the arrow 

of His music." 


I. 36. sur parkas, tank rain kahan 

WHEEE is the night, when the 
sun is shining? If it is night, 
then the sun withdraws its light. 
Where knowledge is, can ignorance en- 


dure ? If there be ignorance, then 
knowledge must die: 
If there be lust, how can love be there ? 
Where there is love, there is no lust. 

Lay hold on your sword, and join in 
the fight ! Fight, O my brother, 
as long as life lasts. 

Strike off your enemy's head, and 
there make an end of him quickly : 
then come, and bow your head at 
your King's Durbar. 

He who is brave, never forsakes the 
battle : he who flies from it is no 
true fighter. 

In the field of this body a great war 
goes forward, against passion, an- 
ger, pride, and greed : 

It is in the kingdom of truth, content- 
ment and purity, that this battle 
is raging; and the sword that 
rings forth most loudly is the 
sword of His Name. 


Kabir says: "When a brave knight 
takes the field, a host of cowards 
is put to flight. 

It is a hard fight and a weary one, this 
fight of the truth-seeker : for the 
vow of the truth-seeker is more 
hard than that of the warrior, 
or of the widowed wife who would 
follow her husband. 

For the warrior fights for a few hours, 
and the widow's struggle with 
death is soon ended : 

But the truth-seeker's battle goes on 
day and night, as long as life lasts 
it never ceases." 


I. 50. bhram ke tdld lagd mahal ye 

THE lock of error shuts the gate, 
open it with the key of love : 
Thus, by opening the door, thou shalt 
wake the Beloved. 


Kabir says : " O brother ! do not pass 
by such good fortune as this." 


I. 59. Sddho, yah tan thdth tanvurekd 

O FRIEND ! this body is His lyre ; 
He tightens its strings, and draws 
from it the melody of Brahma. 
If the strings snap and the keys 
slacken, then to dust must this in- 
strument of dust return : 
Kabir says: "None but Brahma can 
evoke its melodies." 



I. 65. avadhu bhule ko ghar Idwe 

E is dear to me indeed who can 
call back the wanderer to his 
home. In the home is the true 
union, in the home is enjoyment of 
life : why should I forsake my 
home and wander in the forest? 


If Brahma helps me to reaUze 
truth, verily I will find both bond- 
age and deliverance in home. 

He is dear to me indeed who has power 
to dive deep into Brahma ; whose 
mind loses itself with ease in His 

He is dear to me who knows Brahma, 
and can dwell on His supreme 
truth in meditation ; and who can 
play the melody of the Infinite by 
uniting love and renunciation in life. 

Kabir says : "The home is the abiding 
place ; in the home is reality ; the 
home helps to attain Him Who is 
real. So stay where you are, and all 
things shall come to you in time." 


I. 76. santo sahaj samddh bhall 

OSADHU ! the simple union is the 
Since the day when I met with my 


Lord, there has been no end to 

the sport of our love. 
I shut not my eyes, I close not my ears, 

I do not mortify my body ; 
I see with eyes open and smile, and 

behold His beauty everywhere : 
I utter His Name, and whatever I see, 

it reminds me of Him ; whatever 

I do, it becomes His worship. 
The rising and the setting are one to 

me; all contradictions are solved. 
Wherever I go, I move round Him, 
All I achieve is His service : 
When I he down, I he prostrate at His 


He is the only adorable one to me: I 

have none other. 
My tongue has left ofiE impure words, 

it sings His glory day and night : 
Whether I rise or sit down, I can never 

forget Him; for the rhythm of 

His music beats in my ears. 


Kabir says: "My heart is frenzied, 
and I disclose in my soul what is 
hidden. I am immersed in that 
one great bliss which transcends all 
pleasure and pain." 


I. 79. tlrath men to sab pdnl hat 

THERE is nothing but water at the 
holy bathing places ; and I know 
that they are useless, for I have 
bathed in them. 

The images are all lifeless, they cannot 
speak; I know, for I have cried 
aloud to them. 

The Purana and the Koran are mere 
words; lifting up the curtain, I 
have seen. 

Kabir gives utterance to the words of 
experience ; and he knows very 
well that all other things are un- 



I. 82. 'pdnl vie mm piydsl 

I LAUGH when I hear that the fish 
in the water is thirsty: 
You do not see that the Real is in your 
home, and you wander from forest 
to forest hstlessly ! 
Here is the truth ! Go where you will, 
to Benares or to Mathura ; if you 
do not find your soul, the world is 
unreal to you. 


I. 93. gagan math gaib nisdn gade 

THE Hidden Banner is planted in 
the temple of the sky; there the 
blue canopy decked with the moon 
and set with bright jewels is spread. 
There the Ught of the sun and the 
moon is shining : still your mind 
to silence before that splendour. 


Kabir says : " He who has drunk of this 
nectar, wanders like one who is 


I. 97. sddho, ko hai Jcanh se dyo 

WHO are you, and whence do you 
come .? 

Where dwells that Supreme Spirit, and 
how does He have His sport with 
all created things ? 

The fire is in the wood; but who 
awakens it suddenly? Then it 
turns to ashes, and where goes the 
force of the fire ? 

The true guru teaches that He has 
neither hmit nor infinitude. 

Kabir says: "Brahma suits His lan- 
guage to the understanding of His 



I. 98. Sddho, sahajai kdyd sodho 

OSADHU ! purify your body in 
the simple way. 
As the seed is within the banyan tree, 

and within the seed are the flowers, 

the fruits, and the shade : 
So the germ is within the body, and 

within that germ is the body again. 
The fire, the air, the water, the earth, 

and the aether ; you cannot have 

these outside of Him. 
O Kazi, O Pundit, consider it well: 

what is there that is not in the 

soul .'' 
The water-filled pitcher is placed upon 

water, it has water within and 

It should not be given a name, lest it 

call forth the error of duaUsm. 
Kabir says : "Listen to the Word, the 

Truth, which is your essence. He 


speaks the Word to Himself ; and 
He Himself is the Creator," 


I. 102. tarvar ek mul vin thddd 

THERE is a strange tree, which 
stands without roots and bears 
fruits without blossoming ; 

It has no branches and no leaves, it is 
lotus all over. 

Two birds sing there ; one is the Guru, 
and the other the disciple : 

The disciple chooses the manifold fruits 
of life and tastes them, and the 
Guru beholds him in joy. 

What Kabir says is hard to understand : 
" The bird is beyond seeking, yet it 
is most clearly visible. The Form- 
less is in the midst of all forms. I 
sing the glory of forms." 


I. 107. calat mansd acal kinhi 

I HAVE stilled my restless mind, and 
my heart is radiant : for in That- 
ness I have seen beyond That-ness, 
in company I have seen the Com- 
rade Himself. 

Living in bondage, I have set myself 
free : I have broken away from 
the clutch of all narrowness. 

Kabir says: "I have attained the 
unattainable, and my heart is 
coloured with the colour of love." 


I. 105. Qo dlsai, so to Tiai ndhin 

THAT which you see is not : and for 
that which is, you have no words. 
Unless you see, you believe not : what 

is told you you cannot accept. 
He who is discerning knows by the word ; 
and the ignorant stands gaping. 


Some contemplate the Formless, and 
others meditate on form : but the 
wise man knows that Brahma is 
beyond both. 

That beauty of His is not seen of the 
eye : that metre of His is not heard 
of the ear. 

Kabir says : "He who has found both 
love and renunciation never de- 
scends to death," 


I. 126. murall bajat akhatid saddye 

THE flute of the Infinite is played 
without ceasing, and its sound is 
When love renounces all limits, it 

reaches truth. 
How widely the fragrance spreads ! It 
has no end, nothing stands in its 
The form of this melody is bright Uke 


a million suns : incomparably 
sounds the vina, the vina of the 
notes of truth. 


I. 129. sakhiyo ham hun bhai vala- 

DEAR friend, I am eager to meet 
my Beloved ! My youth has 
flowered, and the pain of separa- 
tion from Him troubles my breast. 

I am wandering yet in the alleys of 
knowledge without purpose, but I 
have received His news in these 
alleys of knowledge. 

I have a letter from my Beloved : in 
this letter is an unutterable mes- 
sage, and now my fear of death is 
done away. 

Kabir says: "O my loving friend ! I 
have got for my gift the Deathless 



I. 130. sdln vin dard kareje hoy 

WHEN I am parted from my 
Beloved, my heart is full of 
misery : I have no comfort in the 
day, I have no sleep in the night. 
To whom shall I tell my sorrow ? 

The night is dark ; the hours sUp by. 
Because my Lord is absent, I start 
up and tremble with fear. 

Kabir says : "Listen, my friend ! there 
is no other satisfaction, save in the 
encounter with the Beloved." 


I. 122. kaum murall sahd sun dnand 

WHAT is that flute whose music 
thrills me with joy ? 
The flame burns without a lamp ; 
The lotus blossoms without a root ; 


Flowers bloom in clusters ; 

The moon-bird is devoted to the moon ; 

With all its heart the rain-bird longs 

for the shower of rain ; 
But upon whose love does the Lover 

concentrate His entire life ? 

I. 112. suntd nahl dhun hi khabar 

HAVE you not heard the tune 
which the Unstruck Music is 
playing? In the midst of the 
chamber the harp of joy is gently 
and sweetly played ; and where is 
the need of going without to hear 

If you have not drunk of the nectar of 
that One Love, what boots it 
though you should purge yourself 
of all stains ? 

The Kazi is searching the words of the 
Koran, and instructing others : 


but if his heart be not steeped in 
that love, what does it avail, 
though he be a teacher of men ? 

The Yogi dyes his garments with red : 
but if he knows naught of that 
colour of love, what does it avail 
though his garments be tinted ? 

Kabir says : "Whether I be in the 
temple or the balcony, in the camp 
or in the flower garden, I tell you 
truly that every moment my Lord 
is taking His delight in me." 


I. 73. bhakti kd mdrag jhind re 

SUBTLE is the path of love ! 
Therein there is no asking and 
no not-asking. 
There one loses one's self at His feet. 
There one is immersed in the joy of 
the seeking : plunged in the deeps 
of love as the fish in the water. 


The lover is never slow in oflfering his 

head for his Lord's service. 
Kabir declares the secret of this love. 


I. 68. bhdi hoi satguru sant kahdwai 

HE is the real Sadhu, who can re- 
veal the form of the Formless to 

the vision of these eyes : 
Who teaches the simple way of attain- 
ing Him, that is other than rites 

or ceremonies : 
Who does not make you close the doors, 

and hold the breath, and renounce 

the world : 
Who makes you perceive the Supreme 

Spirit wherever the mind attaches 

itself : 
Who teaches you to be still in the midst 

of all your activities. 
Ever immersed in bhss, having no fear 

in his mind, he keeps the spirit of 


union in the midst of all enjoy- 
The infinite dwelling of the Infinite 

Being is everywhere : in earth, 

water, sky, and air : 
Firm as the thunderbolt, the seat of 

the seeker is established above the 

He who is within is without: I see 

Him and none else. 


I. 66. sddho sabd sddhnd kljai 

RECEIVE that Word from which 
the Universe springeth ! 
That Word is the Guru ; I have heard 

it, and become the disciple. 
How many are there who know the 

meaning of that Word ? 
O Sadhu ! practise that Word ! 
The Vedas and the Puranas proclaim it, 
The world is established in it. 


The Rishis and devotees speak of it : 
But none knows the mystery of the 

The householder leaves his house when 

he hears it. 
The ascetic comes back to love when 

he hears it. 
The Six Philosophies expound it. 
The Spirit of Renunciation points to 

that Word, 
From that Word the world-form has 

That Word reveals all. 
Kabir says: "But who knows whence 

the Word cometh ? " 


I. 63. pile pydld ho matwdld 

EMPTY the Cup ! O be drunken ! 
Drink the divine nectar of His 
Name ! 
Kabir says : "Listen to me, dear Sadhu ! 


From the sole of the foot to the crown 
of the head this mind is filled with 


I. 52. khasm na cinhai bdwrl 

OMAN, if thou dost not know thine 
own Lord, whereof art thou so 

proud ? 
Put thy cleverness away : mere words 

shall never unite thee to Him. 
Do not deceive thyself with the witness 

of the Scriptures : 
Love is something other than this, and 

he who has sought it truly has 

found it. 



I. 56. sukh sindh hi sair kd 

HE savour of wandering in the 
ocean of deathless life has rid 
me of all my asking: 


As the tree is in the seed, so all diseases 
are in this asking. 


I. 48. sulch sugar men dyke 

~^\7 HEN at last you are come to the 
T T ocean of happiness, do not go 

back thirsty. 
Wake, foohsh man ! for Death stalks 

you. Here is pure water before 

you ; drink it at every breath. 
Do not follow the mirage on foot, but 

thirst for the nectar ; 
Dhruva, Prahlad, and Shukadeva have 

drunk of it, and also Raidas has 

tasted it : 
The saints are drunk with love, their 

thirst is for love. 
Kabir says: "Listen to me, brother! 

The nest of fear is broken. 
Not for a moment have you come face 

to face with the world : 


You are weaving your bondage of 

falsehood, your words are full of 

deception : 
With the load of desires which you hold 

on your head, how can you be 

Kabir says: "Keep within you truth, 

detachment, and love." 


I. 35. sail ko Tcaun sikhdwtd hai 

WHO has ever taught the widowed 
wife to burn herself on the pyre 
of her dead husband ? 
And who has ever taught love to find 
bhss in renunciation ? 


I. 39. are man dhiraj kdhe na dharai 

HY so impatient, my heart ? 
He who watches over birds, 
beasts, and insects. 



He who cared for you whilst you were 
yet in your mother's womb. 

Shall He not care for you now that you 
are come forth ? 

Oh my heart, how could you turn from 
the smile of your Lord and wander 
so far from Him ? 

You have left your Beloved and are 
thinking of others : and this is 
why all your work is in vain. 


I. 117. sard se lagan kathin hai bhdi 

HOW hard it is to meet my Lord ! 
The rain-bird wails in thirst for 
the rain : almost she dies of her 
longing, yet she would have none 
other water than the rain. 
Drawn by the love of music, the deer 
moves forward : she dies as she 
listens to the music, yet she shrinks 
not in fear. 


The widowed wife sits by the body of 
her dead husband : she is not 
afraid of the fire. 

Put away all fear for this poor body. 


I. 22. jab main bhuld re bhdi 

O BROTHER! when I was for- 
getful, my true Guru showed me 
the Way. 

Then I left oflF all rites and ceremonies, 
I bathed no more in the holy 
water : 

Then I learned that it was I alone who 
was mad, and the whole world 
beside me was sane ; and I had 
disturbed these wise people. 

From that time forth I knew no more 
how to roll in the dust in obei- 
sance : 

I do not ring the temple bell : 

I do not set the idol on its throne : 



I do not worship the image with flowers. 

It is not the austerities that mortify the 
flesh which are pleasing to the Lord, 

When you leave off your clothes and 
kill your senses, you do not please 
the Lord : 

The man who is kind and who practises 
righteousness, who remains passive 
amidst the affairs of the world, 
who considers all creatures on 
earth as his own self. 

He attains the Immortal Being, the 
true God is ever with him. 

Kabir says: "He attains the true 
Name whose words are pure, and 
who is free from pride and con- 


I. 20. man na rahgdye 

THE Yogi dyes his garments, in- 
stead of dyeing his mind in the 
colours of love : 


He sits within the temple of the Lord, 
leaving Brahma to worship a stone. 

He pierces holes in his ears, he has a 
great beard and matted locks, he 
looks hke a goat : 

He goes forth into the wilderness, kill- 
ing all his desires, and turns him- 
self into an eunuch : 

He shaves his head and dyes his gar- 
ments ; he reads the Gita and be- 
comes a mighty talker. 

Kabir says: "You are going to the 
doors of death, bound hand and 


I. 9. nd jane sdhab kaisd hai 

I DO not know what manner of God 
is mine. 
The Mullah cries aloud to Him : and 
why? Is your Lord deaf.'' The 
subtle anklets that ring on the 


feet of an insect when it moves 
are heard of Him. 
Tell your beads, paint your forehead 
with the mark of your God, and 
wear matted locks long and showy : 
but a deadly weapon is in your 
heart, and how shall you have 

III. 102. ham se rahd na jay 

I HEAR the melody of His flute, and 
I cannot contain myself ! 
The flower blooms, though it is not 

spring; and already the bee has 

received its invitation. 
The sky roars and the Ughtning flashes, 

the waves arise in my heart. 
The rain falls ; and my heart longs for 

my Lord. 
Where the rhythm of the world rises 

and falls, thither my heart has 

reached : 


There the hidden banners are fluttering 

in the air. 
Kabir says: "My heart is dying, 

though it Hves." 

III. 2. jo khoddy masjid vastu hai 

IF God be within the mosque, then 
to whom does this world belong? 
If Ham be within the image which you 

find upon your pilgrimage, then 

who is there to know w;hat happens 

without ? 
Hari is in the East: Allah is in the 

West. Look within your heart, 

for there you will find both Karim 

and Ram ; 
All the men and women of the world 

are His living forms. 
Kabir is the child of Allah and of Ram : 

He is my Guru, He is my Pir. 


III. 9. sil santosh sadd samadrishti 

HE who is meek and contented, he 
who has an equal vision, whose 
mind is filled with the fullness of 
acceptance and of rest ; 

He who has seen Him and touched 
Him, he is freed from all fear and 

To him the perpetual thought of God 
is like sandal paste smeared on 
the body, to him nothing else is 
delight : 

His work and his rest are filled with 
music : he sheds abroad the radi- 
ance of love. 

Kabir says: "Touch His feet, who is 
one and indivisible, immutable 
and peaceful ; who fills all vessels 
to the brim with joy, and whose 
form is love." 


III. 13. sadh sangat pitam 

GO thou to the company of the 
good, where the Beloved One 
has His dwelling-place : 

Take all thy thoughts and love and 
instruction from thence. 

Let that assembly be burnt to ashes 
where His Name is not spoken ! 

Tell me, how couldst thou hold a 
wedding-feast, if the bridegroom 
himself were not there ? 

Waver no more, think only of the Be- 
loved ; 

Set not thy heart on the worship of 
other gods, there is no worth in 
the worship of other masters. 

Kabir deliberates and says : "Thus 
thou shalt never find the Be- 


III. 26. tor hlrd hirdilwd kin cad men 

THE jewel is lost in the mud, and 
all are seeking for it ; 
Some look for it in the east, and some 
in the west ; some in the water 
and some amongst stones. 
But the servant Kabir has appraised it 
at its true value, and has wrapped 
it with care in the end of the 
mantle of his heart. 


III. 26. dyau din gaune kai ho 

THE palanquin came to take me 
away to my husband's home, 
and it sent through my heart a 
thrill of joy ; 
But the bearers have brought me into 
the lonely forest, where I have no 
one of my own. 


O bearers, I entreat you by your feet, 
wait but a moment longer : let me 
go back to my kinsmen and friends, 
and take my leave of them. 

The servant Kabir sings: "O Sadhu ! 
finish your buying and selUng, 
have done with your good and 
your bad : for there are no mar- 
kets and no shops in the land to 
which you go." 


III. 30. are dil, prem nagar kd ant na 

OMY heart ! you have not known 
all the secrets of this city of 
love : in ignorance you came, and 
in ignorance you return. 
O my friend, what have you done with 
this life ? You have taken on your 
head the burden heavy with stones, 
and who is to lighten it for you ? 


Your Friend stands on the other shore, 
but you never think in your mind 
how you may meet with Him : 

The boat is broken, and yet you sit 
ever upon the bank ; and thus you 
are beaten to no purpose by the 

The servant Kabir asks you to con- 
sider; who is there that shall be- 
friend you at the last ? 

You are alone, you have no companion : 
you will suffer the consequences 
of your own deeds. 

III. 55. ved kahe sargun he age 

THE Vedas say that the Uncondi- 
tioned stands beyond the world 
of Conditions. 
O woman, what does it avail thee to 
dispute whether He is beyond all 
or in all ^ 


See thou everything as thine own 
dwelUng place : the mist of pleas- 
ure and pain can never spread there. 

There Brahma is revealed day and 
night : there light is His garment, 
light is His seat, Ught rests on thy 

Kabir says : "The Master, who is true. 
He is all light." 

III. 48. tu sural nain nihdr 

OPEN your eyes of love, and see 
Him who pervades this world ! 
consider it well, and know that 
this is your own country. 

When you meet the true Guru, He will 
awaken your heart ; 

He will tell you the secret of love and 
detachment, and then you will 
know indeed that He transcends 
this universe. 


This world is the City of Truth, its 
maze of paths enchants the heart : 

We can reach the goal without crossing 
the road, such is the sport unend- 

Where the ring of manifold joys ever 
dances about Him, there is the 
sport of Eternal Bliss. 

When we know this, then all our re- 
ceiving and renouncing is over; 

Thenceforth the heat of having shall 
never scorch us more. 

He is the Ultimate Rest unbounded : 

He has spread His form of love through- 
out all the world. 

From that Ray which is Truth, streams 
of new forms are perpetually spring- 
ing : and He pervades those forms. 

All the gardens and groves and bowers 
are abounding with blossom ; and 
the air breaks forth into ripples 
of joy. 


There the swan plays a wonderful game, 
There the Unstruek Music eddies 

around the Infinite One; 
There in the midst the Throne of the 

Unheld is shining, whereon the 

great Being sits — 
Millions of suns are shamed by the 

radiance of a single hair of His 

On the harp of the road what true 

melodies are being sounded ! and 

its notes pierce the heart : 
There the Eternal Fountain is playing 

its endless life-streams of birth 

and death. 
They call Him Emptiness who is the 

Truth of Truths, in Whom all 

truths are stored ! 

There within Him creation goes for- 
ward, which is beyond all philoso- 
phy ; for philosophy cannot attain 
to Him : 


There is an endless world, O my 
Brother ! and there is the Name- 
less Being, of whom naught can 
be said. 

Only he knows it who has reached that 
region: it is other than all that 
is heard and said. 

No form, no body, no length, no 
breadth is seen there : how can I 
tell you that which it is .'' 

He comes to the Path of the Infinite 
on whom the grace of the Lord 
descends : he is freed from births 
and deaths who attains to Him. 

Kabir says : "It cannot be told by the 
words of the mouth, it cannot be 
written on paper : 

It is hke a dumb person who tastes a 
sweet thing — how shall it be ex- 
plained ? " 


III. 60. cal hamsd wd des jahan 

OMY heart! let us go to that 
country where dwells the Be- 
loved, the ravisher of my heart ! 

There Love is filling her pitcher from 
the well, yet she has no rope where- 
with to draw water ; 

There the clouds do not cover the sky, 
yet the rain falls down in gentle 
showers : 

O bodiless one ! do not sit on your 
doorstep; go forth and bathe 
yourseK in that rain ! 

There it is ever moonUght and never 
dark; and who speaks of one sun 
only ? that land is illuminate with 
the rays of a milUon suns. 


III. 63. kahain Kahlr, suno ho sddho 

KABIR says: "O Sadhu ! hear 
my deathless words. If you 

want your own good, examine and 

consider them well. 
You have estranged yourself from the 

Creator, of whom you have sprung: 

you have lost your reason, you 

have bought death. 
All doctrines and all teachings are 

sprung from Him, from Him they 

grow: know this for certain, and 

have no fear. 
Hear from me the tidings of this great 

truth ! 
Whose name do you sing, and on whom 

do you meditate? O, come forth 

from this entanglement ! 
He dwells at the heart of all things, so 

why take refuge in empty desola- 


If you place the Guru at a distance 
from you, then it is but the dis- 
tance that you honour : 

If indeed the Master be far away, then 
who is it else that is creating this 
world ? 

When you think that He is not here, 
then you wander further and 
further away, and seek Him in 
vain with tears. 

Where He is far off, there He is un- 
attainable : where He is near. He 
is very bliss. 

Kabir says : "Lest His servant should 
suffer pain He pervades him 
through and through." 

Know yourself then, O Kabir ; for He 
is in you from head to foot. 

Sing with gladness, and keep your seat 
unmoved within your heart. 



III. 66. nd main dharml nahin 

I AM neither pious nor ungodly, 
I live neither by law nor by sense, 

I am neither a speaker nor hearer, 

I am neither a servant nor master, 

I am neither bond nor free, 

I am neither detached nor attached. 

I am far from none : I am near to none. 

I shall go neither to hell nor to heaven. 

I do all works; yet I am apart from 
all works. 

Few comprehend my meaning : he who 
can comprehend it, he sits un- 

Kabir seeks neither to estabhsh nor to 


III. 69. satta nam hai sab ten nydrd 

THE true Name is like none other 
name ! 
The distinction of the Conditioned 

from the Unconditioned is but a 

The Unconditioned is the seed, the 

Conditioned is the flower and the 

Knowledge is the branch, and the 

Name is the root. 
Look, and see where the root is : hap- 
piness shall be yours when you 

come to the root. 
The root will lead you to the branch, 

the leaf, the flower, and the fruit : 
It is the encounter with the Lord, it is 

the attainment of bliss, it is the 

reconciUation of the Conditioned 

and the Unconditioned. 


III. 74. pratham ek jo dpai dp 

IN the beginning was He alone, suffi- 
cient unto Himself: the formless, 
colourless, and unconditioned 

Then was there neither beginning, 
middle, nor end ; 

Then were no eyes, no darkness, no 

Then were no ground, air, nor sky ; no 
fire, water, nor earth; no rivers 
hke the Ganges and the Jumna, no 
seas, oceans, and waves. 

Then was neither vice nor virtue ; scrip- 
tures there were not, as the Vedas 
and Puranas, nor as the Koran. 

Kabir ponders in his mind and says, 
"Then was there no activity : the 
Supreme Being remained merged 
in the unknown depths of His own 


The Guru neither eats nor drinks, 
neither lives nor dies : 

Neither has He form, line, colour, nor 

He who has neither caste nor clan nor 
anything else — how may I de- 
scribe His glory ? 

He has neither form nor formlessness. 

He has no name. 

He has neither colour nor colourless- 

He has no dwelling-place. 

III. 76. kahain Kahir vicar Ice 

RABIR ponders and says : " He 
who has neither caste nor coun- 
try, who is formless and without 
quality, fills all space." 
The Creator brought into being the 
Game of Joy : and from the word 
Om the Creation sprang. 


The earth is His joy; His joy is the 

His joy is the flashing of the sun and 

the moon ; 
His joy is the beginning, the middle, 

and the end ; 
His joy is eyes, darkness, and hght. 
Oceans and waves are His joy : His 

joy the Sarasvati, the Jumna, and 

the Ganges. 
The Guru is One : and Hfe and death, 

union and separation, are all His 

plays of joy ! 
His play the land and water, the whole 

universe ! 
His play the earth and the sky ! 
In play is the Creation spread out, in 

play it is established. The whole 

world, says Kabir, rests in His 

play, yet still the Player remains 



III. 84. jhi jhl jantar bdjai 

THE harp gives forth murmurous 
music; and the dance goes on 

without hands and feet. 
It is played without fingers, it is heard 

without ears : for He is the ear, 

and He is the Hstener. 
The gate is locked, but within there is 

fragrance : and there the meeting 

is seen of none. 
The wise shall understand it. 

III. 89. mor phakirwd mdngi jay 

THE Beggar goes a-begging, but 
I could not even catch sight of 
And what shall I beg of the Beggar.? 

He gives without my asking. 
Kabir says : "I am His own : now let 
that befall which may befall !" 


III. 90. naihar se jiyard phdt re 

MY heart cries aloud for the house 
of my lover ; the open road and 
the shelter of a roof are all one to 
her who has lost the city of her 

My heart finds no joy in anything : my 
mind and my body are distraught. 

His palace has a million gates, but there 
is a vast ocean between it and me : 

How shall I cross it, O friend ? for end- 
less is the outstretching of the path. 

How wondrously this lyre is wrought ! 
When its strings are rightly strung, 
it maddens the heart : but when 
the keys are broken and the strings 
are loosened, none regard it more. 

I tell my parents with laughter that I 
must go to my Lord in the 
morning ; 


They are angry, for they do not want 
me to go, and they say: "She 
thinks she has gained such do- 
minion over her husband that she 
can have whatsoever she wishes ; 
and therefore she is impatient to go 
to him." 

Dear friend, Kft my veil Hghtly now; 
for this is the night of love. 

Kabirsays: "Listen to me! My heart 
is eager to meet my lover : I lie 
sleepless upon my bed. Remem- 
ber me early in the morning !" 

III. 96. jiw mahal men Siw pahunwd 

SERVE your God, who has come 
into this temple of life ! 
Do not act the part of a madman, for 

the night is thickening fast. 
He has awaited me for countless ages. 


for love of me He has lost His 
heart : 

Yet I did not know the bliss that was 
so near to me, for my love was not 
yet awake. 

But now, my Lover has made known 
to me the meaning of the note that 
struck my ear : 

Now, my good fortune is come. 

Kabir says: "Behold! how great is 
my good fortune ! I have received 
the unending caress of my Be- 


I. 71. gagan ghatd ghahar dni sddho 

CLOUDS thicken in the sky! O, 
listen to the deep voice of their 
roaring ; 
The rain comes from the east with its 

monotonous murmur. 
Take care of the fences and boundaries 


of your fields, lest the rains over- 
flow them ; 

Prepare the soil of deliverance, and let 
the creepers of love and renuncia- 
tion be soaked in this shower. 

It is the prudent farmer who will bring 
his harvest home ; he shall fill 
both his vessels, and feed both 
the wise men and the saints- 

III. 118. dj din he main jdun balihdrl 

THIS day is dear to me above all 
other days, for to-day the Be- 
loved Lord is a guest in my house ; 

My chamber and my courtyard are 
beautiful with His presence. 

My longings sing His Name, and they 
are become lost in His great 
beauty : 

I wash His feet, and I look upon His 
Face ; and I lay before Him as an 


oflfering my body, my mind, and 

all that I have. 
What a day of gladness is that day in 

which my Beloved, who is my 

treasure, comes to my house ! 
All evils fly from my heart when I see 

my Lord. 
"My love has touched Him ; my heart 

is longing for the Name which is 

Thus sings Kabir, the servant of all 



I. 100. koi suntd hai jndni rag gagan 

IS there any wise man who will listen 
to that solemn music which arises 
in the sky ? 
For He, the Source of all music, makes 
all vessels full fraught, and rests in 
fullness Himself. 


He who is in the body is ever athirst, 
for he pursues that which is in part : 

But ever there wells forth deeper and 
deeper the sound "He is this — 
this is He"; fusing love and re- 
nunciation into one. 

Kabir says: "O brother! that is the 
Primal Word." 


I. 108. main kdse bujhaun 

TO whom shall I go to learn about 
my Beloved ? 
Kabir says : "As you never may find 
the forest if you ignore the tree, so 
He may never be found in abstrac- 


III. 12. samshirit bhdshd padhi llnhd 

I HAVE learned the Sanskrit lan- 
guage, so let all men call me wise : 
But where is the use of this, when I 


am floating adrift, and parched 

with thirst, and burning with the 

heat of desire ? 
To no purpose do you bear on your 

head this load of pride and vanity. 
Kabir says : "Lay it down in the dust, 

and go forth to meet the Beloved. 

Address Him as your Lord." 

III. 110. carkhd calai sural virahin kd 

THE woman who is parted from her 
lover spins at the spinning wheel. 
The city of the body arises in its 

beauty; and within it the palace 

of the mind has been built. 
The wheel of love revolves in the sky, 

and the seat is made of the jewels 

of knowledge : 
What subtle threads the woman weaves, 

and makes them fine with love 

and reverence ! 


Kabir says: "I am weaving the gar- 
land of day and night. When 
my Lover comes and touches me 
with His feet, I shall oflfer Him my 


III. 111. kotin bhdnu candra tdrdgan 

BENEATH the great umbrella of 
my King milhons of suns and 

moons and stars are shining ! 
He is the Mind within my mind : He 

is the Eye within mine eye. 
Ah, could my mind and eyes be one ! 

Could my love but reach to my 

Lover ! Could but the fiery heat 

of my heart be cooled ! 
Kabir says: "When you unite love 

with the Lover, then you have 

love's perfection." 



I. 92. avadhu begam des hamdrd 

OSADHU ! my land is a sorrow- 
less land. 
I cry aloud to all, to the king and 

the beggar, the emperor and the 

fakir — 
Whosoever seeks for shelter in the 

Highest, let all come and settle 

in my land ! 
Let the weary come and lay his burdens 

here ! 

So live here, my brother, that you may 
cross with ease to that other shore. 

It is a land without earth or sky, with- 
out moon or stars ; 

For only the radiance of Truth shines 
in my Lord's Durbar. 

Kabir says: "O beloved brother! 
naught is essential save Truth." 



I. 109. sdni he sangan sdsur dl 

I CAME with my Lord to my Lord's 
home : but I lived not with Him 

' and I tasted Him not, and my 
youth passed away like a dream. 

On my wedding night my women- 
friends sang in chorus, and I was 
anointed with the unguents of 
pleasure and pain : 

But when the ceremony was over, I 
left my Lord and came away, and 
my kinsman tried to console me 
upon the road. 

Kabir says, "I shall go to my Lord's 
house with my love at my side; 
then shall I sound the trumpet of 



I. 75. samujh dekh man mit piyarwd 

O FRIEND, dear heart of mine, 
think well ! if you love indeed, 

then why do you sleep ? 
If you have found Him, then give 

yourself utterly, and take Him to 

Why do you loose Him again and 

again ? 
If the deep sleep of rest has come to 

your eyes, why waste your time 

making the bed and arranging 

the pillows? 
Kabir says: "I tell you the ways of 

love ! Even though the head itself 

must be given, why should you 

weep over it?" 



II. 90. sdhah ham men sdhab turn men 

THE Lord is in me, the Lord is in 
you, as life is in every seed. O 
servant ! put false pride away, and 
seek for Him within you. 
A milUon suns are ablaze with Ught, 
The sea of blue spreads in the sky. 
The fever of life is stilled, and all stains 
are washed away; when I sit in 
the midst of that world. 

Hark to the unstruck bells and drums ! 

Take your delight in love ! 
Rains pour down without water, and 

the rivers are streams of light. 
One Love it is that pervades the whole 

world, few there are who know it 

fully : 
They are blind who hope to see it by 

the light of reason, that reason 

which is the cause of separation — 
The House of Reason is very far away ! 


How blessed is Kabir, that amidst this 
great joy he sings within his own 

It is the music of the meeting of soul 
with soul ; 

It is the music of the forgetting of 
sorrows ; 

It is the music that transcends all com- 
ing in and all going forth. 


II. 98. ritu phdgun niyardni 

THE month of March draws near: ah, 
who wiU unite me to my Lover ? 
How shall I find words for the beauty 

of my Beloved ? For He is merged 

in all beauty. 
His colour is in all the pictures of the 

world, and it bewitches the body 

and the mind. 
Those who know this, know what is 

this unutterable play of the Spring. 


Kabir says : "Listen to me, brother ! 
there are not many who have 
found this out." 


II. 111. ndrad pydr so antar ndhi 

OH Narad ! I know that my Lover 
cannot be far: 
When my Lover wakes, I wake ; when 

He sleeps, I sleep. 
He is destroyed at the root who gives 

pain to my Beloved. 
Where they sing His praise, there I 

When He moves, I walk before Him: 

my heart yearns for my Beloved. 
The infinite pilgrimage lies at His 

feet, a million devotees are seated 

Kabir says: "The Lover Himself re- 
veals the glory of true love." 


II. 122. hoi prem lei peng jhuldo re 

HANG up the swing of love to-day ! 
Hang the body and the mind 

between the arms of the Beloved, 

in the ecstasy of love's joy : 
Bring the tearful streams of the rainy 

clouds to your eyes, and cover 

your heart with the shadow of 

darkness : 
Bring your face nearer to His ear, and 

speak of the deepest longings of 

your heart. 
Kabir says: "Listen to me, brother! 

bring the vision of the Beloved in 

your heart." 


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The King of the Dark Chamber 



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(Copyright, 1913, by Frank Crane.) Reprinted by permission from the 
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The Autobiography of 
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